I came across this Infographic yesterday telling us that carbs are evil and are the real reason we get fat. Its a pretty black and white story. But is this necessarily true, and does it apply to athletes [read: people training regularly at high intensity]?
The short answer is no. Traditional athlete diets are loaded with pastas, potatoes and rice to improve energy storage recuperation and recovery... and this tried and tested paradigm seems to be ignored with modern zone or paleo diets.
Insulin is often the portrayed as the bad guy, yet it is vital for recovery, repair and recuperation of energy stores between training bouts. For athletes, I say Glucagon, the counter-insulin hormone that mobilizes our stores of fat, glycogen (muscle and liver glucose storage) and even muscle protein to be used as energy for muscle contraction. When we train insulin bottoms out and we get glucagon spikes instead.
Post training we want to switch our insulin engine back on asap to stop the glucagon catabolism, even into overdrive to replenish the glycogen stores lost asap. Where protein does this (and whey isolates will do this in a BIG way), the resulting insulin spike also elicits a secondary glucagon response because the whey-induced insulin is stripping the blood of glucose. The result? Our stores of glycogen, which, at that time we need to replenish, become further depleted.
I am yet to read research that tells me otherwise (even with protein supplements vs. protein and carbs… guess who wins?), but in the post-training state, its important that those who train hard and train regularly maintain their carbohydrate intake for recovery. If you do follow the paleo diet, think sweet potato and fruit!